Just in the nick of time

Adam and I made it out of town for a long weekend in Montebello on the last weekend of February just before all Hell broke loose with COVID-19. I am very thankful we got away when we did. Our stay was brief, but extremely relaxing. We visited Omega Park to admire the wildlife they protect and above all it allowed me to rediscover a lake my father’s family has had a cottage on for years. I spent a lot of time by the lake when I was little and my father grew up spending weeks and weekends there and he absolutely adored it. Rediscovering the area was very moving for me and Adam and I found a cottage to rent on the same lake that I booked when we got back home. We have a few days planned up there in July and I have my fingers crossed that by then, we will be allowed to venture out of town for the stay.

Current events have been upsetting to say the least. We have all had such huge adjustments to make and have all had to make changes to our plans. Travel cancelled or postponed, family events and celebrations as well, jobs temporarily lost. As I have mentioned before, Adam and my family plans have been completely thrown out of kilter as well. I have gone through huge waves of depression with all of this and have felt very isolated and anxious as well. Many people have had these same feelings and it does help me to read about how other people are feeling. I have been trying to find hope and serenity where I can amid the sadness and confusion. As someone who enjoys routine and relies on it to help stabilize my mood I have enjoyed watching my garden slowly come back to life, flowers bloom and buds open. I have also enjoyed jogging once more and in air that is cleaner than anything I have seen in my neighborhood since I came here to visit my grandparents when I was a child. I have been able to see Mount Sutton and Jay Peak clearly every single day since the end of March, Adam and I could even see snow falling on the mountains to the South one day. It was breathtaking. I have a vague hope that others have been taking the time to enjoy their homes and reflect on  how they can keep their lives simpler and less harried after all of this is over. While I am looking forward to returning to my job, my horseback riding, choir and exercise class, I am looking at how I can shuffle my schedule to make my days flow more smoothly. I hope that some people will discover that working from home is easier for them than spending hours every week stuck in traffic, so there will be fewer cars on the road. I am also hoping that cities and countries who were grappling with the negative effects of mass tourism will find ways of getting in under control. I have found Ireland and England to be masters of this. Many attractions have timed entries and forbid photos inside buildings. If you pay to go in, they force you to truly enjoy your experience instead of taking a selfie and moving on and if you want souvenir photos, you have to pay for a book of official photos and money  from its purchase goes directly to the upkeep of the heritage site. I truly believe the mentality surrounding our lifestyle and our priorities has to change. My paternal grandmother spent years saying this before she passed away two years ago. What is happening to the human race right now is a tragedy beyond a shadow of a doubt but it is also a massive wake up call. How many of us who could often not find the time to call or see a friend or family member would now do anything just to hug them and sit down with them for a cup of coffee or to share a meal? I hope we can all find ways to alter our habits in order to make more time for those we love.

 

In with the new

Most people greet the New Year with the saying ”Out with the old, in with the new!” in mind. I have done so myself, almost every single year and, I will admit, with a particular amount of vigor for the past five years. This year though? I feel like I have won the lottery of life. I have found myself actually fearing, on several occasions, that I was too happy. That being blessed with so much happiness after being either so miserable or so unlucky for so long had to be a prank.

Life this year wasn’t perfect every day, don’t get me wrong. I definitely had a few iffy passes in there. My car cost me a bundle when I wasn’t expecting it to in October, Adam had to work some serious overtime in the weeks leading up to our wedding because of the flooding we had in the Montreal area this Spring and the renovations on our new home cost us a tad more than we had budgeted, namely when the wire that brought power to our house snapped in a wind storm in the middle of February just as the guys were starting to sand the floors so they could varnish them. Also, there was a snow storm the day we began our move…the last weekend in March. That’s life in Canada for you, never take off your snow tires until mid-april!

Despite all the little hiccups this was, I must say, the best year I have had in my entire life. I have, overall, been deliriously happy. Adam and I moved into our dream home after searching for it for nearly a year and, most of all, we got married. I didn’t know I actually had the capacity to be as boundlessly happy as I was on our wedding day. It was the most amazing feeling and one I am very pleased to say I can still find when I look at Adam 🙂

So let me give you all this bit of wisdom, based on life experience: Do not ever give up on happiness. Do not ever give up on love. Do not ever give up on your dreams. Life can be complete and utter shit, believe me, I know. However if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep focusing on and reaching out for your goals, your hopes and dreams, even if at first you only have one little spark of light to reach for you will reach it. Be confident, be hopeful and use that little spark to keep going. Most of all, remember that you are stronger than you imagine.

Thank you 2017 for bringing so many of my dreams to life. 2018, you have some seriously big shoes to fill! Happy New Year to all of you, may 2018 bring you all kinds of treats!

Settling in

Many of you are already aware of this, but after months and months of searching, a few failed purchase attempts and many tears, Adam and I finally found a house we loved as much as our beloved upper duplex and we moved a week and a half ago. We were not able to stay in Monkland Village as we had hoped, but we are still in our much-loved neighborhood of NDG and are settling into our new house wonderfully.

Now that we are done packing and almost done unpacking boxes, Adam and I have been able to get back to our much-neglected evening walks. We went out for our first on this past Sunday and I was struck by how beautiful our new area was in the early evening light, so when we went out again yesterday I brought my camera with me and thoroughly enjoyed taking some pictures of the stunning architecture our neck of NDG and neighboring Westmount had to offer. I hope you will enjoy these photos as much I enjoyed taking them. Oh and just in case you get some crazy ideas, no, our place is nowhere near as over the top as any of these houses. They don’t build houses like the ones in these photos anymore, and have not for the past 150 to 100 years, at least not this close to Downtown Montreal and not one of them has a tax bill under 20 000, I kid you not…

Spring and Summer beauties

 

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Macro shot of one of my Hibiscus blooms.

Ah, Spring! It finally made its way to Montreal! Okay, you can’t really tell today because it is pretty darn chilly out there, but that’s the nature of the climate in this neck of the woods at this time of year: just when you’re convinced you won’t have to wear a sweater or jacket again until September or October, Mother Nature plays a trick on you and throws in a touch of April weather just to keep you on your toes! At least there are leaves on the trees, flowers in my pots and strawberries growing on my from deck though and I’m happy to be sharing these pictures of them with you! Isn’t it awesome how the pollen on the hibiscus bloom looks like caviar? I got a serious kick out of that! I also loved that I was out on the front balcony just at the right moment to snap a photo of this ant as he wandered around on my strawberry plant. I have gotten photos of butterflies, bees and other small insects before, but never an ant.

People often think that you can’t get photos of nature when you live in town, but really you don’t have to look too far, especially in my neighborhood which is full of parks, small front gardens and balconies that most people take a great deal of pride in. I honestly adore my part of town and wouldn’t move out of it for the world!

For more photos of flowers and gardens from Montreal and elsewhere, you can head over to the ‘Flowers’ page.

 

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An ant wandering around my strawberry plant.

Two days in Québec

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So, you have undoubtedly noticed that I have been away for a while. We have some new downstairs neighbors and it has been a bumpy ride since they took possession of the lower half of the duplex in mid-March and began demolishing it in order to renovate it. A bumpy ride as in beyond the usual irritating consequences of a nearly hundred year-old house being gutted to the studs and rebuilt. We were expecting noise, dust and a few issues being discovered with our home as well, but on top of that we got work being done on common elements of the building without our permission, legal threats, express instructions that  only electricians cut wires being ignored and therefore power to sections of our home being cut, our alarm system being damaged and our phone line being cut. We were also treated to personal accusations and insults being thrown our way through the hypocritical medium of e-mail which led me to put my foot down and cut all ties with the neighbors except for requests for bills being paid or permission being requested for work to be done on common elements.With all this going on, to say that I have been lacking inspiration to create anything at all would be an understatement. I have actually been lacking the time and energy to get anything done beyond dealing with the mess being created by the new neighbors at all. The one thing that has been able to give me a reprieve from the confused heap our life has recently become was a two day trip to Quebec City we ran off on at the drop of a hat two weeks ago so Adam could attend a conference. It gave me a chance to spend some time wandering around one of the most photogenic cities I have ever seen, reconnect with my mother’s family history and disconnect from anything neighbor related. Oh, and Adam and I got to have a nice, romantic dinner in one of our favorite restaurants as well. We discovered it on our last trip to Quebec City two years ago and were so happy to be able to go back.

Quebec City is a beautiful little jewel of a place filled with colorful row houses and its oldest section is surrounded by the only intact fortified walls to be found in America north of Mexico which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The city is one of the oldest in North America and was founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. While all of this makes the city exceptional in and of itself, it is the history of my family that always makes me happy to go back and visit it. My mother’s family has its roots in Quebec City and can be traced back to the 17th century in the area, so needless to say I always feel at home when I am there and love remembering all the stories my grandmother has told me about growing up in Quebec City. I love walking through Quebec’s narrow streets and feeling my family’s past around me. This was the first time I really had the time to photograph the city as well and my goodness did I enjoy every second of those two days.

Finally, I’ve decided to post only in English from now on to make life simpler for myself on here. One language to post in means it takes me half the time to get a post up which is a good thing. All the photos featured in the slideshow in this post will be added to the travel photography page, so if you want to get a close look at them, you can pop over there.